Thursday, January 31, 2008

New Year's Resolutions and Miscellaneous

Well, it is time to confess to this year's New Year's resolution! I have actually managed to change some habits over the last two years so here goes with this year's goal -- getting rid of "stuff". This could be any kind of stuff and the first stuff to start getting weeded out were clothes yet again. No, I will never wear a suit to work again so what is the need to keep ANY of them anymore!! All the old pantyhose have long since been turned over to dye sieves!!

Today, two huge bags of polyester batts made their way to the local craft recycling place. I no longer use the polyester batts for hand quilting as I like to quilt with wool so much better and I don't do all that much hand quilting anymore anyway (but I do still do some). I tried using one of the poly batts on Marcia's longarm and it was awful for that so what is the point!! Out they go!

The sewing room looks like a tornado hit it so I am valiantly trying to get some stuff cleared out of there as well and down into the basement! If I can get to where I can see the floor again, I will start quilting on the Yellowstone III piece as I want to get that done by RAFA next week.

Next will be quilt books!! I rarely look at the traditional ones at all anymore and never look at the historical ones. I will get rid of most of the dyeing ones as well as I am so far past that. There are a couple of sentimental favorites as well as the Ann Johnston "bibles" which I will always keep. There are a few authors where I have everything they have written as I admire them and they have so much useful information in their books.

For you baby dyers out there, I can't recommend Ann Johnston's Color by Design and Color by Accident enough. They are a great jumping off point for low water immersion dyeing and dye painting. Elin Noble's book is the best for an overall view of dyeing and working with acylic paints. There are a few others that touch specific areas of dyeing that are worth owning as well. There are an awful lot that just give wrong information!!

Monday, January 28, 2008

Yellowstone III - Alternative Views

Television has certainly been the vast wasteland lately with the reality shows picking up the slack for the writer's strike. Fortunately, I treated myself to a series of dvds called Midsomer Murders which was a British mystery series that used to occassionally be on A & E. They are my absolute favorites and so I watch those when there is nothing on!

The three comfort quilts are completely finished now! Binding is all attached and sewn down. This is my very favorite part as it just makes everything look so neat and tidy after looking a little messy and askew along the way.

This is the Yellowstone 3 piece before it was all put together and arranged as I had been working on it -- that is how I thought it should sit. I still have to do a bunch of trimming and the final sewing together which is a bit tricky as I don't want to trim before putting together and don't want totally straight seams as well.

Anyway, below are three other ways of positioning the Yellowstone 3 piece. I actually like the last one the best of all as it seems to take away the last vestiges of being a landscape (at least to my untrained eye). Before I put on the final sleeve, I will have to get some other opinions!

This was the first alternative view.

Alternative #2

This is my favorite view although alternative 2 looks okay to me as well. The highly patterns batik in the upper right might be a bit strong for the top.

This is the same as the first view only it's now a finished top and nice a neat. We will call this original!

Of course I have decided to move ahead and do yet another Yellowstone piece with the other sliced up photo I have from the class. By the time I get to "take 25", I should have it right!! It is amazing when you go to places like Picasa how many pictures you can see of Yellowstone and how many are almost identical to pictures I took!! Guess the same thing inspires us all. The same was not true for Crater Lake though which surprised me. We really hit the jackpot on the day we went as the weather was so absolutely perfect without a cloud anywhere. A lot of the photos I saw posted showed lots of clouds and a very overcast sky. Crater Lake is beautiful then but not like blue I saw the day we were there!!

Thursday, January 24, 2008

A Day at the Long Arm!

This is me trimming away all the extra batting from the piece I am next going to quilt. Marcia made me look up and smile and took these pictures as I actually forgot to take my everpresent camera!

This is me lost in thought quilting away on the machine. I think Marcia's dear husband Bill took this picture.

Well, another unpredictable snow day in Upstate Western New York! It was sunny here. I drove to the county line and it was snowing like crazy. A mile after I turned south, the sun was with me again! Lake effect snow is like this. Our neighborhood did get hit while I was gone but I came back the "southern" route so didn't hit snow until about 1/2 mile from the house.

It was a great day at my friend Marcia's house. It was good to see her up and perky after recent bout with a nasty nosebleed. It has been a good two months since I have seen her but do read her blog religiously ( Anyway, she invited me to quilt my comfort quilts that I did in Florida on her longarm. I always forget for some reason that she has it!! I was talking about the three quilts I had taken to a professional to have longarm quilted and it occurred to either Marcia or I that I could finish up all these comfort quilts that way as I am giving them away and they are good for practicing on. So that is whay I did. I am feeling more comfortable with the machine each time I use it and think I will get some more quilts out of the way although I will now give away all the rest of my polyester batting!!! It was awful and as I only use wool when I handquilt now...there is no way I can use it.
This is the larger of the two crazy quilts.

This is another of the tops made with leftovers from a couple of quilts.

This is the third of the quilts and more baby sized. I am going to add a border onto this one. Each of the quilts I quilted with kind of a meandering not quite finished heart. It is not a bad overall pattern for a comfort quilt. I think I like the one where I was looser and did very large hearts the best.

Monday, January 21, 2008

MAGnificent Inspiration: The Art Quilt

This is a picture of me and Marcia with Michael James. Marcia had taken a class with him a couple of years ago in New Mexico and I took a class with him 8 years ago at QBL (my first time at QBL).

Yesterday was quite a busy day! The Memorial Art Gallery here in Rochester is hosting an exhibit called Wild by Design (there is a book out by the same title). The exhibit includes many quilts from the magnificent collection at the University of Nebraska. There is also a small exhibit of Michael James art quilts. The opening reception was Saturday night and was sold out! They had to turn away people and 1800 attended. As an auxiliary to this exhibit, they called for quilters to come to the museum and develop a small art quilt in response to one or two of the pieces there. 30 quilters made 36 quilts which they artfully displayed next to the pieces which inspired the quilters. 10 of those small quilts were sold the night of the opening reception!! The best part is I think I know all of the quilters except for one or two as they are members of the art quilt group I belong to (RAFA). I was away when they called for people to participate and would not have had enough time as it turned out anyway -- what a wonderful opportunity for those who did make the small quilts.

A real treat was hearing Michael James speak for almost an hour and a half. He was downright charming! I took a class from him right at QBL before I retired. He is a gifted teacher (IMHO) and very passionate about his art. He was not very social back then but then the temps were in the mid 90's with the sun pouring into the room we were in most of that four days!! His color class was a real boost to my ability to assess what dyes would make what colors and how close so many colors were.

We couldn't take pictures of the Nebraska exhibit or Michael James' quilts but I did take pictures of almost all of the art quilts and the paintings that inspired them. I will put up a couple that were some of my favorites. You can look at Marcia DeCamp's blog ( or Jeanne Beck's blog( to see their quilts (they were also among my favorites as well).

This piece is by Pat Berardi and is called Reaching Out. It was inspired by a piece of Wendell Castle's wooden sculpture of a hand.

This is The Meanderer by Jeanne Simpson and is based on The Wanderer by George Grosz.

This is called What Would Jesus Wear and is by Pat Pauly inspired by Madonna and Child with Saints.

To see all the quilts, go to my Picasa site

Saturday, January 19, 2008

Class with Pat Pauly

The last week was spent preparing for and then taking a two day class from Pat Pauly (, our local design guru/mentor and RAFA spiritual leader! I spent a couple of days using up all of the ink in my printer! As a result I had a rich assortment of photos for the class. As usual, I didn't read the instructions very carefully and didn't bring enough of the right fabrics to put a piece together -- this was not helped by the fact that I had no idea which photo I would use and I had about 30!!

We had about 8 people and met at Pat's house which she had well set up to accommodate us with no problem. Because of the illness of one of our valued members, the original studio we were to use was not available (but she is better now).

We spent the first morning looking at slides and taking sample pictures and using a mask to select portions of the picture which we then cut out and arranged into {hopefully} pleasing compositions. We then selected a picture from our own stash and started auditioning fabric trying to keep the proportions pretty much in keeping with the pictures.

This is Anne Fischer's piece at the end of Day 2. She fell in love with one piece of fabric that she wanted to use so it ended up being smaller than some of the other pieces. It was very graphic and a wonderful composition (I thought).
This is the start to Jeanne Simpson's piece. She of course tempted us with many bolts of beautiful cottons -- yes, I succumbed to the temptation!

I again chose (big surprise) my favorite Yellowstone picture which has been on this blog about 10 times already. I had a good assortment of fabric which was my main driver in the selection process at this point. Of course, I didn't have any more complex solids or prints so after day 1, again brought even more fabric to Pat's!

This was my piece at the beginning of Day 2. I had a mountain thing going in that upper right quadrant which I didn't like and neither did Pat. She said it is very difficult to get away from being a "landscape" with the long horizontal lines and we determined that they should be broken up. I did this and ended up with buildings instead so went on to the next draft. This was the "first draft".

This is the second draft which still wasn't right. It was just too dark in the upper left quadrant and the lower right. It still looks a bit like a landscape although I have broken up the dark blue. At this point, I looked at it through the camera and the light blue greys in the upper right and lower right really stuck out so it was obvious that color needed to be added to the upper left. Also the space needed to be broken up to reduce that landscape look.

This was my "third draft" and what I left the second day with. I am still not happy but do like the break up of the space in the upper left quadrant now. I have worked on it a bit more and have changed the lower left quadrant a bit as well. I still have work to do on the lower right quadrant and some more work on the upper left!! I am getting to the point (NOT in this picture) that I am beginning to like it after I did some work last night. There was some advice I read somewhere that every stitch and every piece of fabric should be placed with intent and mean something so I take that seriously now making sure I like everything -- that it feels right. I am definitely outside my comfort zone.

Monday, January 14, 2008

Catching up on Quilting Projects

This is the picture of the new baby quilt for Warren's friend Rachel. She has very much wanted a baby and it has been difficult for her.

Well, I have recovered from the vacation and finally got an album on Picasa of the bird pictures I took down there. It was great fun to print some of them today in larger sizes. Ostensibly I did this for the class later this week but really just wanted to have a peak at how they looked on photo paper all blown up. It was such a blast to take all these pictures but not as much fun to pick out my favorites! It's hard to use that delete key!

Finally have gotten around to making the squares for two online pals who are going to be grandmas (one for the first time and one for the third). As usual, I cut out a whole bunch extra so that I can have a couple of "reserve" baby quilts as LJ's friends seem to be having their first babies these days.

I also managed to finish a few more blocks for the baby quilt so that I would have one in reserve as everyone seems to be having new grandchildren these days. Also, many of LJ and Zanne's good friends are having babies as well. I hadn't even finished the last block when Warren put in a request for a baby quilt for a girl that was to be born in April. So there goes the spare!

The following quilts were all done with scraps while I was on vacation and will be quilted and given away as comfort quilts as soon as I get them basted and machine quilted!

This quilt and the following quilt are made using the simple 9 piece 8 piece pattern from which I have made a few previous quilts. It was hard to put them together to make a pleasant composition as I had no design wall but did the best I could. These are the leftovers from the Fall Migration two years ago which were leftovers from my Extreme Sampler quilt with the 289 blocks!

This quilt just used leftover squares from two projects sewn together. Altogether I have about 5 comfort quilts to finish.

Friday, January 4, 2008

Well, I COULD Edit All My Previous Posts -- NOT

Well, I have been reading up on my birds and found that all the mature brown pelicans have the bright colors with the dark stomach. I do have some picture of one of the pelicans with the mating plummage which is the dark neck -- don't know whether that is both male and female or just the males though. All the brownish pelicans with the white bellies are the immature pelicans which range in age from 2 - 5 years old. Several years ago Warren and I were at a bird santuary north of Tampa in Florida and saw baby pelicans from just a few days old to several weeks old. They look just like little Pteradactyls.

We are heading home in just a few days now -- back to the relative cold weather. I will probably put up a few more pictures then. I have been finishing up odds and ends of leftovers from various quilting projects so have about 5 comfort quilt tops which I will have to just get basted and quilted and out of my house!! I made at least three that will be big enough for the VA hospital contributions.